Dominican Slang | Gringo’s Guide to ‘Tiguere’ Spanish

Qué lo qué?

Looking to learn a little Dominican Slang before heading off to paradise? Then you’re in the perfect place.

Just be forewarned…

Dominican Spanish is unlike anything you’ve ever heard before. The locals speak fast, shorten words, and continually use slang to communicate. Honestly, it’s tough for a gringo to understand from the jump. DR slang takes a bit to get used to.

Ya tu sabes.

Dominican slang can really only be compared to Costeño Spanish in Colombia or even Cuban slang.

But there’s no reason to be afraid. Dominicans are friendly people and will speak a little slower once they notice how confused you are.

Oh, and it’s exactly why I created this guide. A detailed guide on Dominican Spanish and slang that helps any and all gringos speak like a local.

So, enough of the fluff, let’s get right into it.


dominican slang


What Makes Dominican Slang Different?

First of all, my Dominicans homies talk with flow! Rhythm. Whatever you want to call it. There’s almost a cadence to how they speak.

But…what really makes Dominican slang different?

Let’s say that they have their own version of Spanish. You won’t find these words in a dictionary.

Te lo juro.

But the difference between Dominican Republic slang and that of other countries is simple: Dominicans use slang in everyday life more than almost any other country.

The DR is a chill, laid-back place. The culture is informal. People are relaxed, even in somewhat formal settings. As such, slang is used all the time in everyday life.

This means you’ve gotta speak some slang in the DR if you’re gonna fit in.

Hell, even with a basic grasp of standard Spanish, you’ll still be left scratching your head when trying to understand Dominicans.

Dominican Spanish is “extra” Caribbean, so they shorten many words. They combine words on occasion. They speak with tons of slang phrases. And of course, Dominicans speak fast.

So you’ll need to understand a bit about Dominican slang before you get to this beautiful island.

Luckily, that’s what we’ll breakdown below…


Con mi gente en la calle. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.


Understanding the Dominican Accent

Before we dig deeper into Dominican Republic slang, we need to understand the Dominican accent a little bit.

Why?

Because understanding the Dominican accent is damn difficult!

This is Caribbean Spanish, and it’s not exactly gringo-friendly unless you understand a few things first.

The Dominican accent is distinct. It’ll take some getting used to, but once you understand a few things life gets easier.

First, Dominicans shorten words. A lot!

This is especially common when talking about popular words like, “Esta”, “Estas” and many more. For example, these words often just become “ta” in the DR.

So instead of saying, “¿Cómo estás?” they might just say, “¿Cómo tú ’tá?” in the DR.

Dominicans rarely pronounce the letter “D” when speaking with friends and family. When talking about a finger or toe, they don’t say, “dedo” it comes out more like, “deo” — which sounds like “day-oh”

Another example here would be: “pegado” or stuck in English. In Dominican Spanish that would be pronounced: “pega’o”

Dominicans tend to do this with common phrases ending in “S” too.

Again, it’ll take a little bit to get adjusted to the Dominican accent and slang on the island. But with a little practice and patience, you’ll start to understand how these savvy Caribbean people communicate.


Top 15 Dominican Slang Words & Phrases

You can have an entire dictionary filled with Dominican Slang, but that’s not the point here. Our goal is to teach you the most used and most useful slang words in the Dominican Republic.

Terms that will make your life easier while in paradise!

After spending over six months in the DR, I’ve spent enough time here to know what words and terms my fellow gringos need to know.  What you need to know before hitting the streets of Santo Domingo. Or the beaches of Punta Cana. Or the lush city of Santiago.

Here are 15 Dominican slang words and phrases to get you going:

  • Qué Lo Qué?

Probably the most used slang in the Dominican Republic by far. This one you will hear a lot, as it’s the most common greeting in the country.

No, it doesn’t mean “What to what”. It means “What’s up?” as a greeting. Personally, I would use this phrase when speaking with younger people. Certainly not when talking with the elderly.

How to use “Qué lo qué” in a sentence:

Qué lo qué? / What’s up?
  • Chapiadora

This might be my favorite Dominican slang word. Chapiadora is basically the Dominican version of a gold-digger. It’s a woman who just really loves money.

You’ll hear “chapiadora” all over the Dominican Republic. Many women consider it an insult, although some know it’s true.

How to use “Chapiadora” in a sentence:

Estoy buscando una chapiadora exactamente como tu. / I'm looking for a gold-digger exactly like you.


  • Vaina

This term is commonly used throughout all Center America and parts of South America. You will hear this almost all the time because people use it to refer to a “thing”.

Vaina is often neutral word, although it can be derogatory. It’s never positive, but it’s not inherently negative, either.

How to use “Vaina” in a sentence:

Por favor, pasame la vaina esa. / Please, pass me that thing.
  • Chin

This one you are going to use it when you want a little bit of something. It’s often used when talking about food or in the kitchen.

For example, many Dominican recipes call for “un chin” of certain ingredients.

How to use “Chin” in a sentence:

Dame un chin de comida. / Give a little bit of food.
  • Guagua

This term is key. You will hear it a lot from the locals. If you’re thinking about taking the bus, well you better learn this word. Because in the Dominican Republic people generally call the bus a guagua.

Guaguas are usually old, rundown buses that travel within the city. They’re not comfortable or even clean, but riding on one is definitely a uniquely Dominican experience every gringo must have.

How to use “Guagua” in a sentence:

Esperemos la guagua o cogemos un taxi? / Let’s wait for the bus o should we take a cab?
  • Jevo/Jeva

This is 100% a Caribbean Spanish slang term. Common in the DR and Puerto Rico, locals use “Jevo/Jeva” when referring to someone they’re casually dating.

When a Dominican is seeing someone, but they’re not officially boyfriend and girlfriend, this is the term used. Jevo is kind of like an affectionate way to say “friends with benefits” in Dominican Spanish.

How to use “Jevo/Jeva” in a sentence:

Mi Jeva está muy bonita! / My girl is very pretty!

Tiguere…Santiago, Dominican Republic.


  • Colmado

If you’re from the United States, then think of a colmado like a Dominican-style 7-Eleven.

There’s a colmado in every neighborhood in the Dominican Republic. Locals often buy some of their groceries there, like eggs or water. Many Dominicans also drink Presidente beers outside the colmado and socialize with the neighbors on weekends.

Hell, some colmados even blare bachata music and the neighborhood dances the night away.

How to use “Colmado” in a sentence:

Se me acabó el desodorante, voy al Colmado a comprar. / I´m out of deodorent, I’m going to the nearest store to buy some.
  • Chulo/Chula

First of all, let’s say that this word is used in other countries, especially in Spain. You can use this to refer to a person or thing that’s cute or good-looking.

But in the DR, you’ll hear chulo a lot. People use it to refer attractive women all the time. “Mami chula” is something you’ll hear in the Dominican Republic often, although many a Dominicana doesn’t appreciate it.

Chulo and chula can be used as terms of endearment too, especially between couples.

How to use “Chulo” in a sentence:

Esa mujer está bien chula. / That girl is pretty.
  • Tiguere

Tiguere is a very, very Dominican slang word.

Generally, a “tiguere” is a man who is street saavy, a hustler, and potentially, violent. It’s kind of like the Dominican word for a gangster.

Some women in the DR consider men who are players to be a form of tiguere too.

How to use “Tiguere” in a sentence:

Cuidado con ese hombre, es un tiguere. / Be aware of that man, he is a hustler.
  • Concho

This one is truly a Dominican slang word. I have never heard of it in any other country.

Concho is just another word for car or motorcycle. It’s a word Dominicans use when talking about any form of vehicle or transportation.

How to use “Concho” in a sentence:

No quiero caminar, vamonos en un concho. / I don’t want to walk, let’s grab a cab.
  • Tripeo/Tripeando

This one isn’t as common as some of the rest. But Tripeo basically means “messing around” in Dominican Spanish.

It’s often used when making fun of someone and letting that person know that you’re joking.

When looking at the exact English equivalent, I believe it translates to something like, “I’m pulling your leg.”

How to use “Tripeando” in a sentence:

Tranquilo, estoy tripeando contigo. / Take it easy, I’m just pulling your leg.

Guagua vida.


  • Disparate

This a Dominican word for “nonsense” or when something is just flat out wrong.

When someone is talking about something and you know 100% they are wrong, you can use this word. It’s not inherently negative or aggressive, but you can use “disparate” to almost insult someone too.

How to use “Disparate” in a sentence:

Lo que estas diciendo es un disparate! / What you are saying is nonsense!
  • Hartura

This refers to that feeling when you ate a LOT and you can’t have even one more bite of food.

Hartura is a very useful slang term when eating food someone made for you or after finishing a meal at a fancy restaurant.

How to use “Hartura” in a sentence:

Tengo tremenda hartura! / I’m so full!
  • Nítido

This is a very common expression among Dominicans. It refers to something cool or great.

You can use it in any context, but Dominicans often use “nitido” when commenting on a story someone is retelling.

How to use “Nítido” in a sentence:

Ese carro está nítido. / That car is pretty cool.
  • Yala

It’s pretty common to say “Yala” when something is okay or alright. However, this is often used in informal meetups with friends.

How to use “Yala” in a sentence:

A las 8 p.m pasó por ti. Respuesta: Yala / I’ll cross at 8 p.m. Answer: Okay

Dominican nightlife

Asi es la vida.


How To Learn Spanish Like a ‘Dominicano’

There are three main things I recommend when learning to speak like a Dominicano. More textbooks aren’t one of the. I can tell you that.

As a matter of fact, that is the first tip…

  • No More Textbooks

At some point, everybody gets tired at the same old same old. And truth is, there are really better ways of learning languages than staring at a book.

If you want to step your game up, you better find some real action, aka practicing with locals while in the DR.

Get out of the resort and start talking to Dominicans. They’re a patient bunch and will put up with your gringo Spanish until the cows come home. As long as you’re practicing and respectful!

But if you’re not in the Dominican Republic currently, that might not be an option. Luckily…

  • BaseLang

Imagine receiving Spanish classes from a local, native speaker at anytime, any day of the week. Yep, I’m talking about unlimited Spanish lessons.

Welcome to BaseLang.

A service that offers unlimited one-on-one online Spanish tutoring lessons with professional teachers — for one low monthly price.

You pay $129 USD for a Month of BaseLang and you take as many 30-minute lessons as you want from as many teachers as you want.

The real cool feature about BaseLang is that takes out all the fluff and starts teaching you how to have real Spanish conversations from the first day. You can literally go from garbage to conversational in only a few months.

Highly recommended!

--> Here is a full review of my BaseLang Spanish learning experience.
  • Stay Consistent

No matter what you do, there’s really only one way to truly learn Spanish…

You’ve got to speak Spanish every single day.

You’ve got to be consistent with it. Be it talking with locals. Taking an online lesson. Using an app on your phone.

Whatever it is, you need to be studying and/or speaking Spanish for 30-minutes every single day. No excuses. This is how you’ll start understanding Dominican slang sooner than later.


Making friends in the DR.


Gringo’s Guide To Dominican Slang | The Verdict

Te gusto esta vaina?

That about does it. Everything gringos need to know about Dominican slang and Spanish. The accent and slang can be tough to master, but once you do, speaking Spanish will never be difficult again.

Did I miss anything? Any common Dominican slang phrases I need to add?

Sound off in the comments below and I’ll add anything I missed. One measly gringo can only do so much while living in the Dominican Republic. Ya tu sabes.

Que te vaya bien,

Jake



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Jake Nomada

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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